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A urinary tract infection, or UTI, is an infection that develops when bacteria enters the urinary tract and begins to multiply. In most cases, these germs enter through the urethra, the tube that transports urine from the bladder and out of the body. When germs enter the urethra, they can move upward into the bladder, kidneys and ureters, the tubes that move urine from the kidneys into the bladder. UTIs are most easily treated before they reach the kidneys, where they can cause more serious problems.
Most people experience these symptoms:
A few people may have no symptoms at all. If the infection reaches the kidneys, symptoms can include low back pain, fever, chills and vomiting.
Anyone can get a UTI, but some people are at greater risk for the infections, including:
Symptoms of Lower Urinary Tract Infection
Symptoms of Upper Urinary Tract Infection
The upper urinary tract consists of the kidneys and the ureters while the lower urinary tract involves the bladder and the urethra. Most infections occur in the lower urinary tract. If left untreated or spread to the kidneys, this infection can lead to serious consequences
Urinary tract infections are classified according to the part of the urinary tract they affect. There are three main types, and each has its own set of symptoms.
This infection is limited to the urethra and manifests as discharge and a burning sensation during urination.
The infection affects the bladder. It causes a person to experience a frequent need to urinate and pressure in the pelvic region.
The person will also experience pain in the lower abdomen and pain while they urinate. They will notice that their urine is colored and/or smelly.
This is an extremely serious form of the infection. A person will have a fever, complete with chills and shivering. They will experience nausea, vomiting and pain in the upper back and sides.
A person with these symptoms should get urgent medical help because an advanced UTI can damage the kidneys permanently.
You can take these steps to reduce your risk of urinary tract infections:
Symptoms of a UTI in Toddlers or Kids
Newborns with a UTI may have no symptoms other than a fever. Sometimes they do not eat well or grow well, are sluggish (lethargic), vomit, or have diarrhea. Newborns may develop an overwhelming bodywide infection (sepsis) from a UTI.
Infants and children under age 2 years with a UTI may have fever, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, or foul-smelling urine.
Children over age 2 years with a UTI usually have the typical symptoms of a bladder or kidney infection similar to adults.
Children with bladder infections (cystitis) usually have pain or burning during urination, a need to urinate frequently and urgently, and pain in the bladder region. They may have difficulty urinating or holding urine (urinary incontinence). Urine may smell foul.
Children with kidney infections (pyelonephritis) typically have pain in the side or back over the affected kidney, high fever, chills, and a general feeling of illness (malaise).
Children who have urinary tract abnormalities may have a mass in the abdomen, enlarged kidneys, an abnormal opening to the urethra, or possible deformities in the lower spine. Children who do not have a forceful stream of urine may have a blockage in one of the tubes that transports urine from the kidneys to the bladder (ureters) or may not be able to control their bladder because of a nerve problem.
Your family doctor, nurse practitioner or other health care provider can treat most urinary tract infections. If you have frequent recurrences or a chronic kidney infection, you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in urinary disorders (urologist) or kidney disorders (nephrologist) for an evaluation.
To prepare for your appointment:
For a UTI, basic questions to ask your doctor include:
Don’t hesitate to ask other questions as they occur to you during your appointment.
Your doctor will likely ask you several questions, including: